Jihadis Celebrate Viral TikTok About Osama Bin Laden's 2002 'Letter To America' As Seeds For New Jihadi Generation In West Are Sown

November 17, 2023

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On November 16 and 17, 2023, jihadis continued to react to the viral trend on Tik Tok, #LetterToAmerica, in which users uploaded videos reacting to reading Osama bin Laden's 2002 address, titled "Letter to America." [1]

Videos uploaded by Tik Tok users suggested that the Al Qaeda slain leader's letter provides an alternative perspective on the U.S. involvement in conflicts in the Middle East. The letter casts doubts on U.S. support for Israel following the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.

'A Seed For New Generation Of Jihadis'

Jihadi Telegram channel "Teacher Haroun," which had previously shared content related to Al-Qaeda's Syria-based affiliate, Hurras Al-Din, wrote that the trend had revived bin Laden's legacy more than a decade after his death. Bin Laden was killed in May 2011 in Pakistan.[2]

"Teacher Haroun" also shared an article authored by "Nasser Al-Haqq" (Supporter Of Victory), who wrote that the "message revived the memory and remembrance of the largest operation against the global Zionist-Crusader alliance, which is the blessed September strikes," referring to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. The article frames the attack on the U.S. as an act in support of Palestinians.

Commenting on the possible implications, the post predicted that the trend augured well for a new generation of jihadi supporters.

"Bin Laden planted in every country of the Islamic world a seed of jihad, some of which has matured and some of which is about to mature."

The post argued that any negative associations with Al-Qaeda were the result of a campaign launched by international operatives.

"A campaign by the Coalition operatives who infiltrated some groups has smeared Al-Qaeda based on accusations of collaboration." The message continues, asking Allah to publicly expose these agents of the "Zionist-Crusader Coalition."

Dissent, Hypocrisy

The Shahada news agency, the media arm of Al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Somalia, published a lengthy article on the Tik Tok trend with an emphasis on dissident voices in the U.S.[3]

Although largely hewing to the facts, in content and tone, the article highlighted voices in the U.S. that cast doubt on assertions of U.S. moral superiority over its jihadi opponents in the Global War on Terrorism.

Quoting author and activist Frederick Joseph, the video "went viral not because people necessarily agreed with Osama bin Laden's actions or morality, but because the letter offers perspective on America's hypocrisy, the hypocrisy of settler-colonial states, etc."

The article also credited the popularity of the letter to the realization by some users about "how much money members of Congress from both the Republican and Democratic parties received receive from the Zionist lobby."

In addition to emphasizing the link between the attacks of 9/11 and the plight of Palestinians, the article noted that some users connected the subject to the displacement of Native Americans by the U.S. government.

The piece also wrote, without providing a citation or source, that "90 percent of Arabs and Muslims supported Bin Laden as a reaction to American support for the Zionist aggression." The article later described the international coalition fighting terrorism as a "satanic alliance."

It closed with a copy of bin Laden's letter.

A person in a white shirtDescription automatically generated

"Barbaric Attacks of the Jews Have Blinded the Eyes of the Truth"

Somali Memo, a website linked to Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabab, published a short article in Somali, highlighting positive reactions to "Sheikh" bin Laden's letter, using an honorific to describe the late terrorist leader.[4]

After accusing the West of hypocrisy for removing the article, the piece claimed that the step was spurred by "fear that the message would spread."

In contrast, it wrote, Westerners have become inured to the violence that has spread on television screens following Hamas' surprise assault on southern Israel on October 7, but states:

"On the other hand, the barbaric attacks of the Jews have blinded the eyes of the truth after they killed thousands of children and women."

The piece closed by accusing the West of hypocrisy, suggesting that the Tik Tok trend indicated that beliefs in common values had collapsed.

"In general, the propaganda of the West, where people used to dream of 'Human Rights,' has collapsed."

A person with a beard and a white turbanDescription automatically generated

Terror from the Grave

Several jihadi users circulated a short clip of bin Laden, in which the Al-Qaeda founder links the group's goals with Palestinians, stating, "I swear by Almighty Allah, who raised the sky without pillars, that neither America nor anyone who lives in America will dream of security before we experience it as a reality in Palestine."[5]

Commenting on the video and the recent emergence of bin Laden's letter on Tik Tok, the pro-Al-Qaeda Tawakkul bot wrote that bin Laden "terrified them in life and death."

"Beginnings of an Intellectual Revolution"

The "Min Idlib" (From Idlib) Telegram channel, which is affiliated with several independent Syria-based jihadi clerics, shared a video of U.S. neo-Nazi and ex-Marine Angelo John Gage (also known as Lucas Gage), commenting on the Tik Tok trend, including unfounded allegations that Israel conducted the attack.[6]

Claiming that the letter was in fact written by bin Laden's successor, Aymen Al-Zawahiri (who was killed in 2022) and celebrating its resurgence, the channel asserted in an accompanying that the trend was indicative of growing support for Al-Qaeda and jihad in the U.S., and diminishing support for Israel.

"The beginnings of an intellectual revolution are taking place among the Americans, led by the speech of Sheikh Osama bin Laden. It has received tremendous response among them, as they have discovered the truth of what Sheikh Bin Laden told them, and where the American government's support for the Jews will lead."

[2] Telegram, November 17, 2023.

[3] Shahada News, November 16, 2023.

[4] SomaliMemo24.net/articles/18913/Farriin-uu-Sheekh-Usaama-u-diray-Mareykanka-oo-dib-u-qabsatey-baraha-bulshada, November 16, 2023.

[5] Telegram, November 16, 2023.

[6] Telegram, November 16, 2023.

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